China 1996 1/2 oz Gold Rat

100 Yuan Scallop Proof Coin

About the China 1996 1/2 oz Gold Rat 100 Yuan Scallop Proof Coin

Shown here is a coin from a series struck between 1993 and 2004.  The series comprises twelve scallop-shaped lunar gold coins, all weighing 1/2 oz.  Featured on the reverse faces of the series are works of art by celebrated Chinese artists depicting the twelve animals which make up the Chinese zodiac.

1996 was a Year of the Rat.  Above is the Year of the Rat coin of the series from that year.  It has a denomination of 100 yuan.  The Shenyang mint issued this coin with a mintage of 2,300 pieces and certifies that it is a proof coin.  The coin measures 27mm in diameter and contains 91.6% pure gold.  The art work shown on the reverse face is a piece painted by Qi Baishi (1864-1957). 

Qi initially trained as a carpenter in his youth and came to painting relatively late in life.  His distinctive style is typified by seemingly casual and playful watercolour brush strokes.  The painting shown is entitled \"Old Rat and Maize\" and depicts a rat gingerly walking on a cob of maize.  The denomination appears above and left of the rat.

The building shown on the obverse face is the Wangjiang Tower or River Overlook Tower in the city of Chengdu.  The tower was built in dedication to the Tang Dynasty (618-907) poetess, Xue Tao (768-831).  Xue gained great respect for her poems - an achievement that is all the more impressive given that women lacked social status at the time and the work of female poets was often looked down upon as frivolous.  Above the image are the Chinese characters reading: \"The People's Republic of China\".  Below the image is the year of production.

In Chinese folk tales, the rat was the first animal to arrive at the meeting called by the Jade Emperor and so occupies the first position in the Chinese zodiac.  The rat, despite its limitations, tricked the other animals to ensure that it arrived first.  Because of this, the rat is not only a symbol of leadership and a embodies a pioneering and manipulative spirit, but is also a sign of intellect and cunning.

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